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Terence Winch
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Thanks, Earle, and thanks for tipping me off to this recording---James Earl Jones certainly knew how to get a poem across brilliantly.
Thank you, my friend. Is there any chance of your becoming the New Yorker's next poetry editor?
Thank you, Michael. You have always reminded me of him. And he would have totally loved you (and not just because you're such a great musician).
Thanks, Maureen. Great to hear from you.
Danke, mein Freund.
Thanks, Betsy. (The Vega he's playing is the one I have had since he died.)
Thank you, Ms. Campbell
Thank you, Ms. Campbell.
Absolutely right, Jerry.
Absolutely right, Jerry.
Thanks, Michael.
Good to hear from you, Marti. I thought that was your brother Neil in the photo, but I sent it to Martin Flynn, who said he thought it was you.
Thanks, Patrick. I know he was delighted that you were named for him, though I imagine your memories of him are faint.
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My father, Paddy Winch (1905--1971), worked as the custodian of St. Thomas Aquinas elementary school in the Bronx, which this poem commemorates. He was a very generous and loving man, much beloved by his children and all who knew him. The photo shows him playing the banjo in 1958 in the house in Cahercrea, County Galway, Ireland, where my mother, Bridie Flynn, was born and raised. My parents were in Ireland that summer, their first trip back in almost 30 years. (Dublin cousins Noel Rogan and Martin Dawson are also seen in the photo.) Custodian for charlie fanning _________________________________ I ran the shovel along the street, a razor path through the sidewalk face, snow lather parting for me, for my father, our feet crunching in the city night. We grabbed the garbage cans from school and church and dragged them up the iron stairs. I lugged burlap bags stuffed with bingo cards, light as cream puffs. We swept the auditorium with green sawdust from huge drums. We hammered and drilled in his workshop, where tools hung on pegboard, their images silhouetted behind them For instant identification and placement. Once he sawed his index finger in half on the power saw in a moment of inattention in a life otherwise built of skill and care. Once a year the Monsignor made him climb inside the giant boiler and clean it out with enormous pipe cleaners till he was black with soot that took days to wash off. Sonny boy, he called me, and laddie buck. He always said just do your best. We loved to watch him fall asleep on the couch, Daily News over his face Snores filling the apartment with the music of rest well deserved. His finger took years to heal enough for him to play again but a black scar Ran down its center. He’d give me a rub with his unshaven face, rough as sandpaper. He’d pretend he didn’t know me, scrubbed from the tub, the lovely lie delighting me every time. from Boy Drinkers (Hanging Loose Press, 2007) Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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This is fantastic. What a great collaboration. I wish John had then written poems using the same titles, but maybe that would have been too much.
Thanks, Earle. Clearly and somewhat understandably, Dominic Behan was overshadowed by his brother Brendan. But there's no denying his significant contribution to Irish music. I sold most of my LPs years ago, but kept a few treasured discs, including Dominic's 1957 Riverside recording, Easter Monday, 1916: Songs of the I.R.A., which I memorized as a kid. But I didn't know of his four songs for Christie Moore's first album, so thanks for that information.
Thank you, Dr. Earle. I loved Luke Kelly's (and Ronnie Drew's) singing. I heard, and met, The Dubliners twice in Dublin in 1966, thanks to my Dub cousins, and I was thrilled to the core. They were idols of mine. Have fun in Amsterdam!
Let's not forget our friend John Ashbery, who loved his weed.
Dear DL---That's nice to hear, although it must be admitted that half the comments are usually from me, thanking the commenters for commenting.
Here is a different take on Borstal Boy from Terence Hegarty, songwriter, poet, and longtime friend of mine who grew up in Dublin: I can't agree about Borstal Boy. I reread it a few years ago, this time aloud because I wanted a loved one to appreciate how good it was, but both my listener and myself were getting restless long before I was finished. I came away feeling it's an important book because it manifests the English approach to reform school education, which at that time was probably the most enlightened in the world. (This was probably not Behan's intent.) As a bildungsroman it struck me as cliché-ridden and not too memorable. I found long passages quite dull. I will always love Behan for his two great plays. I am also fond of his novel The Scarperer (you will remember I read bits of that for your Behan program on WGRG in the early 70s). I will also always remember the occasions when I saw his wife dragging him home through the Dublin streets during my childhood years. These incidents, I think, helped me, at an early age, to understand that drunkenness and bad behavior are not necessarily markers of depravity (as my Catholic teachers told me); that such things can coexist with excellence; that his wife's courage in these public displays showed that human caring (let us say, love) overcomes everything.
Thank you, Mr. O'Keefe.
Thanks, Jerry.
Thank you, Ms. Campbell.
Go raibh maith agat, banríon na Gaeilge. I have learned a lot from you chomh maith.
I wish a local theater company would do a production of one of his plays. I remember seeing a play about Behan in New York in the late '60s---it amazed me how much the actor playing him looked and sounded like the man himself. Spooky. Can't remember the name of either the play or the actor.